I’ve told you about my love for salt, right? And it’s pretty obvious I have a serious sweet tooth. So when I saw a recipe for salted caramels with bourbon (!!!!!), in this month’s Bon Appétit magazine, it was a stop everything, run to the store and stock up on ingredients kind of moment. And oh my, am I glad I did. These are out-of-control good, the bourbon adds this subtle smoky flavor, and the flaky sea salt contrasts perfectly with the chewy sweetness of the caramel. Also, did I mention they have bourbon in them? It’s cold outside people. And bourbon keeps you warm. It’s sort of a no brainer.
Candy might seem daunting to the home cook, but trust me, anybody can pull these off. They take less than a half an hour to make, and once they’re cooled and cut into bite-size pieces, they look so professional you’ll question whether you might have been a brilliant confectionery in your past life.
These caramels would make for a wonderful holiday gift (and I definitely recommend sharing as having an entire batch in your apartment is totally dangerous). Wrap them in colored plastic wrap or stock up on some candy boxes and your friends and family might try convincing you to quit your day job and open up your own candy shop. Don’t quit your day job, but do make these caramels. You’ll forever be considered a culinary god(ess).
Bourbon Sea-Salt Caramels
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Note: Candy making can be made much easier with the purchase of a candy thermometer. You can get one online or at any local home goods/hardware store. You can try eyeballing it, but note that undercooking caramels results in more of a sauce, and overcooking could result in a cracked tooth. To ensure that your candy has the right consistency, whisk your mixture until the thermometer registers 240 degrees Fahrenheit, or the “soft ball” stage, it will be ooey gooey chewy perfection.
Caramels are great on their own, but could be even better stuffed inside a chewy chocolate chip cookie. Just saying.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoons good bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Flaky sea salt
Special Equipment: A candy thermometer (see note)
Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2″ overhang on 2 sides. Spray parchment paper.
Add sugar, corn syrup and water to a medium saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in sweetened condensed milk and butter until smooth. The mixture will bubble pretty intensely, but just keep stirring, it will simmer down. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the thermometer registers 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat, and whisk in bourbon and kosher salt.
Pour the caramel into your prepared pan, and let cool. After 10 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt, and allow caramel to cool to room temperature. Cut into 3/4″ square pieces and warp individually in parchment paper.
Caramels will keep for up to two weeks, stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic and put in an airtight container. Good luck keeping them around for that long.